- The pandemic shortened Major League Baseball season begins on July 23.
- The Blue Jays had received permission from city and provincial government to play at Rogers Centre.
- Ultimately, it was the Canadian federal government that rejected the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto.
They won’t be called the Dunedin Blue Jays or the Buffalo Blue Jays this year but that’s essentially what they’ll be. The Toronto Blue Jays have been denied in their efforts to play home games in the upcoming 60 game MLB season in their usual venue of the Rogers Centre. The Jays had received clearance from Toronto city and Ontario provincial authorities but their request was denied by the Canadian federal government. The other 29 Major League Baseball teams are expected to play without fans in their home ballparks. The most likely recourse now is for the Jays to play home games in nearby Buffalo, New York or at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.
The Blue Jays have the United States to ‘thank’ for their dilemma. Toronto is the only Canadian city in the MLB meaning there would be frequent back and forth travel to and from the US. Since the US has one of the worst coronavirus infection rates in the world it was determined that the risk to Canada’s generally successful battle against the COVID-19 pandemic would be too great.
Canadian authorities had allowed the Blue Jays to hold training camp in Toronto but in a statement released by Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino the decision to deny the request to play the regular season at Rogers Centre was explained:
“However, unlike pre-season training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada. Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.”
“Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety. As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”
Toronto Blue Jays team president and CEO Mark Shapiro indicated that the team accepts and respects the federal government decision:
“From the onset of discussions with league and government officials, the safety of the broader community – our fans – and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government’s decision.”
“Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation. We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans again on Canadian soil.”
The American response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been downright abysmal. Both major parties have make political gain the priority over public health in their handling of the coronavirus. The result–the United States has by far the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 3,544, 143 as of Saturday. Only two other countries–Brazil and India–have more than a million confirmed cases. The American death toll is also the highest in the world at 137,674 which is almost twice as many as Brazil’s 76,688 which is the second highest.
More problematic is the current rate of daily new infections in the United States. While most of the world has finally gotten a handle on the pandemic the American response has essentially thrown gasoline on a fire. The US currently has a 7 day moving average of 19.9 new cases per 100,000 people daily. Only six nations in the world–French Guiana, Oman, Bahrain, Sao Tome and South Africa–have a higher infection rate. By way of contrast, Canada’s daily transmission rate per 100,000 is less than 1 (0.9). There are more than 100 nations with a lower daily transmission rate than Canada’s further demonstrating just what a mess the Americans have made of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the continuing high rate of infection in the United States the majority of countries in the world–including Canada–have barred them from entering. As most European and Asian countries have started to relax restrictions on travel from other countries Americans remained persona non grata. As a Washington Post article succinctly put it “Americans are the dangerous, disease-carrying foreigners now.” The sad reality for citizens of the United States is that carrying a passport from once reviled countries like Uganda or The Sudan will get you in more countries than an American one.